Non-profit publishers have more freedom than commercial houses; they can publish books because they deem them worthy in some way, without quite as much concern for the bottomline (although they each watch their bottomline very, very carefully).
One of the challenges, of course, is that just because a book is worthy of publication doesn’t mean it’s going to sell: books can have value despite their ability to turn a profit. As a result, many small presses rely on grants to cover expensive production costs.
Furthermore, a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund, awards annual grants that specifically support printed and illustrated books. An organization must be a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and not a privately funded organization or a college or university. A press must apply at least three months before the anticipated publication date and have a complete publication plan to include with their application.
The program seeks work that appeals to an informed general audience; demonstrates evidence of high standards in editing, design, and production; promises a reasonable shelf life; might not otherwise achieve top quality or even come into being; and “represents a contribution without which we would be the poorer.”
Applications are reviewed by a group of scholars, publishers, and individuals; they collectively identify the projects that receive Furthermore grants. The program is upfront about the fact that almost two-thirds of awarded grants have gone to applicants from New York State, and many projects focus on New York State, New York City, and the Hudson Valley. However, plenty of small presses from other parts of the country have been awarded grants: for a list of grantees since 2009, click here.
The J.M. Kaplan Fund was established in 1945 by businessman and philanthropist Jacob Merrill Kaplan (1891–1987), who was its president until 1977. Today the Fund is managed by an Operating Board that consists of J. M. Kaplan’s seven grandchildren.
In 2013, Joan K. Davidson, president of Furthermore, established the Alice Award to honor her mother, Alice Manheim Kaplan, who loved and collected the illustrated book as a work of art in itself and an essential document of a civilized society. The Alice Award is selected annually from books that have previously been awarded a Furthermore grant. No applications for the Alice Award are requested or accepted. A jury of distinguished leaders in publishing and the arts selects the Alice Award recipient.
For more information about the J.M. Kaplan Fund, click here.